Saturday, March 31, 2012

Political Fundraising Sampler

Full disclosure -- I am on many political mailing lists, most of them inadvertent on my part, probably stemming from one forgotten petition signed five years ago. Others are on purpose. For example, I have signed up to be on the lists of several Republican extremists, only because their stuff is so entertaining. Otherwise, I might have missed Herman Cain's skeet-shooting attack on a stuffed toy rabbit. Herman's mother never read him The Velveteen Rabbit at bedtime. I can guarantee it.

Today, all the politicians are desperately sending out their last-minute appeals for cash, to try and meet their monthly and quarterly quotas. You might be surprised by the variety in tone, content and yeah, basic politeness.

The first to arrive was simply titled "Hey" from Barack Obama. He is obviously a very busy man, and he wants you to be aware that when he does deign to write to you, it's always on the fly. He's got to court the weighted votes at the $37,500 big ticket "campaign events." He has moved far, far beyond the human niceties. Here's what he wrote:
Karen -- 
I need you with me on this one.
Tonight's deadline is our biggest yet, and I need everyone pitching in.
Give $15 or whatever you can:
Let's go, 
Normally I ignore Obama for America crap, but the bald arrogance and naked money grubbing of this one ticked me off mightily.... I need.... I need...give...let's go. So I wrote back in the little answer box at the bottom of the email, so somebody can either stuff it in the circular file where emails go to die, or more likely, become part of my permanent record:
What a rude email! No please, no thank you. Just "hey" and "let's go?" Earth to Barack -- it ain't all about you, Buddy.
Send me $15 or whatever you can, right this minute. My bills are coming due. I need you with me on this one.
Hey, let's go--
Then came this one from Rick Santorum. The guy may be a demented whackjob, but at least somebody taught him how to beg politely.
Please see the note from our finance director below. We are only $47,000 away from meeting the goal we set earlier this week.
If you haven't yet given this month please visit our webage and make a donation of $25 or whatever you can afford right now.
We need every penny we can raise to make our case in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Sent from my mobile device
The third (and certainly not the last -- the day is still young) is from former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson. So far it is my favorite -- it offers substance and information and connects with the audience in a way the previous two don't even try to. It concentrates not on Alan, but on the voters. It even pokes gentle fun at fundraising. Alan writes:

Dear Karen:

A month ago, I wrote a note called "The Myths That Are Killing Us" – the hard myths that no Republicans, and very few Democrats, ever challenge. Here was my list:

  1. The Government can't create jobs. (Tell that to FDR, who created four million jobs in three months.)
  2. Tax cuts reduce the deficit. (Doesn't it bother them that a man named "Laffer" came up with this one?)
  3. A fetus is a baby.
  4. The poor have too much money.
  5. Cutting the federal deficit will end the recession.
  6. The rich are incentivized by tax cuts, while the poor are incentivized by lower wages, no benefits, an end to the minimum wage, and unemployment.
  7. An unwanted child is God's will.
  8. Everyone who wants health insurance has it.
  9. The problem with education is the teachers.
  10. The "free market" satisfies every human need.
  11. There is no discrimination in America anymore.
  12. The distribution of wealth and income are irrelevant.
Well, this list seems to have provoked a lot of thought among us. Since I regard what we do as a collective endeavor, I want to share with you some of the best of this crowdsourcing by our audience – 20 more destructive myths:.
  1. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.
  2. The environment can protect itself.
  3. It is better for America to be feared than loved.
  4. Only the wealthy create jobs.
  5. America is a Christian nation.
  6. Human beings are not the cause of climate change.
  7. Minority women have children in order to qualify for welfare.
  8. President Obama wants to take away our guns.
  9. The more we spend on the military, the safer we are.
  10. Corporations use tax cuts to hire people.
  11. The unemployed are lazy and stupid.
  12. Rich people are smarter than everyone else.
  13. We will never run out of oil.
  14. Invading foreign countries wins hearts and minds.
  15. Science is a matter of opinion.
  16. Instigating unnecessary wars shows your support for the troops.
  17. Corporations are people.
  18. Money is speech.
  19. You can get any medical treatment you need, in any hospital emergency room.
  20. One gender is better than the other, one race is superior to all others, and there is only one true religion.
Every one of these myths is fascinating in its own right. You could write a whole book about each of them. So to the supporters who contributed to this list, thank you. I'm listening and learning. 
And if we could just get past all of these myths, then think about what a great place this would be. 
Alan Grayson 
P.S. I recognize that this is a hopeless cliché, but our campaign fundraising goal for the quarter was $500,000, and as I write this, we are only $11,510 short of that goal. Really. If you would like to help us reach our goal, or if you're simply fond of round numbers, then click here.
I'll add to the list as the day goes on. And if any of you readers have some memorable political iBeggary to share, please send it in. Remember, we are facing a make-or-break midnight deadline. 

Update: An email labeled "I Tried" arrived from Rufus Gifford of Team Obama. He starts off saying he is sorry! He realized what a schmuck his boss is! Never mind... it's just a form letter:

    Karen --
Sorry to bug you on a Saturday. The FEC wouldn't let us push back their big March 31st deadline. (I tried.)
Just hours to go -- Can you chip in $15 or more?
Nice to know Rufus is no doofus, and unlike his boss, realizes even the lesser people appreciate a little common courtesy when they're hit up for their meager dollars by the One Percent.

I also had received an appeal from Michelle Obama the other day, but it was hiding in the spam file and I just now found it. Whenever she writes, she wants me to "have Barack's back", which I find mildly off-putting. It casts the most powerful man on earth in somewhat of a victim role, someone who needs my protection, rather than as a public official who was elected to do the will of the people. It's boiled down to voting for the guy out of guilt. Ask not what Barack can do for you, but what you can do for Barack. And not one policy position or accomplishment does she include. All the more glaring when juxtaposed with Alan Grayson's thoughtful missive.


Will said...


I take back my little swipe at Alan Grayson and Co. the other day. Like many of us around here, I'm just about at the end of my rope, completely demoralized and feeling totally helpless lately against the Powers That Be. So, please forgive me for lashing out at the few friends we have actually have left in Washington. Plus, the guy is funny as hell and I couldn't stay upset with him if I tried. :)


Chris Hedges hosts a chat with atheist author Alain de Botton on BookTV this weekend. Hooray for interesting television!

Here's the schedule:

Jay - Ottawa said...

I UNsubscribe much too much, supposing down deep that I'm being 'green' by eliminating from the ether one more email best labelled as 'junk.' So I lack a file of gems from candidates.

On the other hand, if political candidates sent around something like baseball cards, I just might be a collector. Hey, Karen, how many 'Santorum' cards do you want for that 'Romney'? :-)

Here's three cards for three candidates I would never give up -- two men and one woman who are gold and belong on the national stage. They can make you think and smile at the same time. They haven't asked me for money yet, but I'm already considering sending them a penny or two out of admiration for the dignity and talent they bring to politics.

If you need a boost after reading about nothing but bad news candidates, take a look at three with a good chance of landing in Congress -- one each from California, Montana and North Carolina. They'll make you feel proud again to be an American. Add them to the list we've started with Alan Grayson. Give me some more, please.

I was introduced to these three stars by Glenn Greenwald here:

Denis Neville said...

The cost of the 2012 elections will be a record $6 billion.

The “finest” politicians money can buy.

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.” - Aristophanes, Plutus

Glenn Greenwald reminds us that, while we often bitch about our corrupt and rotten politicians, the only way to liberate political candidates from subservience to lobbyist and corporatist interests is to support as much as possible those new Congressional candidates who are very worthy of attention and support. [Jay has already provided the link]

If there were only more of them!

@ Will - atheist author Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

There was recently a very interesting interview with him on our local university radio station.

De Botton has been pummeled by prominent atheists over his idea that atheists need to appreciate things religions do well.

Robert Wright, and Alain de Botton:

Last Sunday, Up with Chris Hayes devoted an entire program to an in-depth look at atheism in America and its role in politics. Not something one usually sees on MSM (and on a Sunday no less!).

Valerie said...

Hey! After reading your column, I am sending Alan Grayson $20. You gotta love the guy!

Thanks for the good links, Will, Jay and Denis.